Hotel Security Tips: Stay Safe While Traveling

A couple of years ago I was sitting in the business lounge of a boutique, high-end hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil on the 27th floor and noticed an armed robbery taking place right in front of another hotel a few blocks away. Sao Paulo is a very dangerous place and crimes of this sort are common. My client was paying for armed guards in the lobby and other precautions including enhanced access control. If the client had not been paying for my room, I may have stayed at the hotel across the way where the robbery took place. The incident got me thinking about hotel security. What could I do to increase my odds of staying safe when traveling?

When the economy is bad, petty crime, robberies and burglaries tend to increase. Your hotel is where you are often most vulnerable to these sorts of crimes. There are steps you can take however to minimize your risk of being a victim.

  • Hotel SecurityPrior to traveling, use your business rather than home address when placing a reservation. Consider sanitizing your wallet or purse. Only bring those credit cards and forms of identification that are necessary and leave the rest at home. When you reserve a room, try to get one between the first and eighth floors. (In case of fire, most fire engine ladders cannot reach above eight stories.)
  • After you arrive at your hotel, always accept bellman assistance upon check-in. Allow him to open the door for you to ensure that the room is unoccupied. Take five minutes to get to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Know the location of the nearest exit stairwell and consider how you will get to it in the event of a fire or blackout. You should never use stairwells except in an emergency. They are favorite locations for bad guys to perpetrate whatever criminal act against you they desire.
  • Women in particular should ask the desk clerk, especially at night, for an escort to their room. Let the bellman or desk clerk open your room for you prior to entering. If someone knocks on your door, do not be shy about calling the front desk and asking the clerk to verify his or her authenticity.
  • Make you and your valuables a hard target. Secure wallets, purses, jewelry and excess cash in your hotel safe even when occupying the room. If a burgler is somehow able to access your room, they frequently will attempt to steal whatever they can find without waking you.
  • When you leave your room, always display the do-not-disturb sign. In addition, keep the TV or radio playing to discourage unwelcome visitors. Always keep your curtains closed too.
  • On departure always destroy your room keys or turn them into the front desk. Electronic room keys can store an amazing amount of information. This can include your name, address and credit card numbers.

You may not always have the luxury of a wealthy client who can pay for extra security but if you follow these simple tips, you can help minimize your risk of being a victim while traveling.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Bill Gaskill

Mr. Gaskill has over 20 years of extensive international experience with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, followed by 10+ years in the corporate sector.During his career at State, he developed and led comprehensive security programs in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America.He was Chief of Security at five U.S. Embassies:Tel Aviv, Athens, Lima, Nicosia and Lome.He has worked in more than 144 countries and has an extensive network of global contacts.His areas of professional expertise include risk assessments, physical security, access control, guard force operations and management, counter terrorism, investigations, foreign security liaison, personal protection and Emergency Plans and Preparations.

As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.

As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.

Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.

Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.
Bill Gaskill

1 thought on “Hotel Security Tips: Stay Safe While Traveling

  1. Here are some other suggestions I’ve learned from 20+ years of traveling:

    When entering the room for the first time, I prop the door open with my bag until after checking the entire room for bad guys (allows for quick escape without having to open the door). I check under the bed, behind the curtains, bathroom and closet.

    When leaving the room, I jam the do not disturb sign between the door and the door frame. It’s impossible (unless there are two people) to jam the sign from inside the room alerting me that someone has either entered my room or messing with me. Either way, this is a great “first alert” that someone may be waiting for me.

    When leaving the hotel, I always try to grab a business card. By doing this, I will know the address and can show it to a taxi driver that might not speak english, especially when I am out of the country.

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